Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Former Dallas County Schools chairman sentenced in bribery scheme


A former Dallas County Schools board of trustees chairman was sentenced on Tuesday morning to three years of probation for his role in a bribery scheme that ended in the downfall of Dallas County Schools.

Larry Duncan will also serve six months of home confinement.

Duncan, 73, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion. The reasoning for the sentence, Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn said, was because of Duncan’s health, history of public service and being a first-time offender, according to Fort Worth Star-Telegram media partner WFAA-TV.

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He must pay $45,163.36 in restitution, according to the sentencing order.

Duncan didn’t pay about $40,000 in taxes on more than $184,000 in fake campaign contributions from Bob Leonard Jr., a businessman from New Orleans, according to court documents. Duncan used the money on cars, cash withdrawals and money for himself and his wife.

In exchange, he helped Leonard’s company — Force Multiplier Solutions — sell millions of dollars worth of stop-arm cameras to Dallas County Schools, a public agency that provided bus service to Dallas ISD and other school districts.

Former Dallas mayor pro tem Dwaine Caraway was also implicated in the scheme. He was sentenced to just over 4 1/2 years in prison last week.

Between 2011 and 2017, Caraway took roughly $450,000 in payments from Leonard, records say. In return, he supported Force Multiplier Solutions’ stop-arm program. He also promoted Leonard’s planned real estate development in South Dallas.

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Leonard has also pleaded guilty, as well as his associate Slater Swartwood and former superintendent of Dallas County Schools Ricky Sorrells. The three have not yet been sentenced.

Dallas County Schools, which collected property taxes to purchase stop-arm cameras for about 2,000 buses, dissolved in November 2017 because of the scheme. The agency was left with about $103 million in debt.


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